During a routine sales meeting, a sales manager explains to his team that while it’s important to be able to express the value of the company’s products and services, what’s even more important is “getting the lead to love you.”
After the meeting, a new sales rep, frustrated with the sales manager’s advice, turns to a coworker and says, “People shouldn’t want to buy our products because they love me; they should buy our products because of the quality and the value. I don’t need people to love me; I need to make money.”
Unfortunately for the sales rep, her manager overhears her complaint. He stops her in the hall and points to the company’s most successful salesperson. He asks the new rep, “Do you think the products Susan is selling are better than the products you’re selling?” The rep replies she does not. “Exactly,” says the sales manager. “People aren’t buying from Susan instead of you because what she’s selling is better. They’re buying from Susan because they love her.” The sales manager goes on to explain that he knows this is true because each time he has an interaction with one of Susan’s customers, the first thing out of the customer’s mouth when he mentions her name is, “Oh, Susan. I love her!”
The new sales rep is dumbfounded. “But I didn’t go to school to learn how to get leads to love me,” she says.
“Well, guess what?” challenges the sales manager. “School’s back in session.”
Later that afternoon, the sales manager calls the new rep into his office and logs in to the company’s customer relationship management system. First, he has the rep take a look at the notes made by sales reps who routinely meet sales goals, but don’t often surpass them. The notes on their accounts are perfunctory. They include items such as, “Sent PDF brochure” and “Talked 15 minutes regarding proposal” and “Verified not making purchasing decisions till next year.” Then, he has the rep take a look at Susan’s notes. In addition to notes on the facts of business discussed, Susan’s notes include things like, “Daughter Marjorie, seven” and “Misses Chicago pizza since moving to OH” and “Likes making jokes about movie, Office Space.”
The sales manager also has the new rep call and listen to the outgoing voice-mail messages of the company’s mid-tier sales reps. The messages are more or less the same: “You’ve reached So-n-So at ABC Company. Please leave me a detailed message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.” Then, he has the rep listen to Susan’s outgoing voice-mail message, which is: “Hi! You’ve reached Susan at ABC Company. If you aren’t aware of our holiday shipping discounts or haven’t signed up to attend the trade show in January, let me know. I’ll be sure you get the VIP treatment.”
Finally, the sales manager takes the rep into the kitchen and offers her a brownie. “Do you know where these brownies came from?” he asks the rep.
The rep pauses, then asks, “Susan?”
“They’re left over from the batch she made and sent to her best customers this year,” the sales manager replies, taking a bite. “Good, right?”
“Good,” admits the sales rep.
“So, what do you think are the three reasons Susan is so successful?” asks the manager.
“Um ...” pauses the sales rep. “I guess number one would be that she make things personal.”
The sales rep continues, “And number two would be that ... she never overlooks an opportunity to sell?”
“And number three is ... brownies?”
“Exactly,” says the sales manager. “Now let’s take a look in the refrigerator and see if Susan brought in any milk.”